So it’s no secret that Xbox Game Pass is an incredible deal. Having hundreds of games available to play whenever you want for just a small fee is the type of deal that child you probably dreamed about, and when I say “child you”, I mean “child me”, because child me was a sad, pathetic loser who got bullied in school.
Anyway, there’s a huge amount of games at your fingertips, but one genre that could be better represented is fighting games. As of the time of writing (20th January 2020), there are currently 15 games listed under the fighting genre right now, but upon closer inspection, there’s actually a lot less. The genre includes beat ‘em ups like Guacamelee! and Guacamelee! 2, along with RPGs like Absolver and Oblivion. Not sure how that managed to sneak into the fighting category, but there we go.
In reality, there are only seven fighting games available on Xbox Game Pass, out of the 200+ on offer, and we can break those stats down even further. Considering that fact that two of these games are Xbox 360 Live Arcade games that are available through backwards compatibility (The King of Fighters ‘98 and Samurai Shodown 2), we can say that there only five modern fighting games on offer: Jump Force, Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite, Killer Instinct: Definitive Edition, Mortal Kombat X and Tekken 7.
Going even further still, describing some of these games as modern might even be a bit of a stretch. They’re certainly not receiving a wealth of new content, that’s for sure. MK X has been rendered obsolete by Mortal Kombat 11, while support for Marvel vs Capcom Infinite was quietly dropped after the first season pass due to the game failing to meet its projected sales targets. Meanwhile, Killer Instinct hasn’t received a new content drop for a few years now.
The real standouts in this line-up are Tekken 7 and, of all things, Jump Force. Both games were added to Xbox Game Pass in the midst of a content roadmap, Jump Force’s season pass and Tekken 7’s Season 3 respectively, which I feel like more developers should be doing, as it offers a host of benefits to the game itself and the consumer.
First and foremost, dropping the game on Game Pass would ensure that consumers won’t have to spend any additional money trying to play a new fighting game. One of the biggest barriers for fighting games is the idea of dropping £50/$60 on a game you can’t even fundamentally play, so eliminating that cost entirely would entice a brand new wave of players. Even if the game is a few years old, Game Pass should ensure the servers are at least somewhat populated.
Secondly, players who have tried and liked the game via Game Pass would likely be more inclined to purchase DLC of the game, especially considering that purchases of a game and its DLC are discounted when they’re part of Xbox Game Pass. After Tekken 7 was added to the library, I almost immediately added the third Season Pass to my downloads, along with the entirety of Season 2 as they were on an unrelated sale.
If developers launch their games onto Xbox Game Pass during the middle of a content cycle, it’d incentivise some players who are interested in the game to purchase the DLC thanks to the discount, thus giving them a reason to keep coming back once the next character drops. Fighting games live or die based on the amount of players are online, and whether or not they’re engaging with post-launch content, so this seems like the next logical step for the genre.
Of course, the Xbox One isn’t really considered the home for fighting games, or exclusives if you’re to ask anyone on the internet, as the PS4 houses so many more top quality fighters, but with Xbox Game Pass, it could be. I don’t mean for this article to sound like the transcript for an infomercial or an investment pitch, but the subscription service guarantees a ready-made install base for the games on offer.
The service has already managed to acquire titles you wouldn’t think you’d ever see on an Xbox, with the likes of the Yakuza series and Kingdom Hearts 1.5HD and 2.5HD making their way to the Xbox through Game Pass in the coming months. It stands to reason that the same opportunity should be taken by the fighting games of the future.
There have been quite a few pieces over the past year from various developers stating how much of a boon Xbox Game Pass has been in getting their game out there and played, and if any genre needs that level of backing or advertisement, it’s fighting games. The service is there for the developers, it’s just a case of utilising it.
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